Vice President Joe Biden engaged in a little retail politics earlier today at Nestor's Gourmet Deli in Boca Raton, Florida:
Where this gets interesting: a man identifying himself to the VP as Steve Grossman, age 39, asks the VP if he can also join them at the table and ask him some questions to help make his decision about voting. The VP welcomes him in, and Grossman sits to the VP's left.
Grossman says he works in the financial services industry, has two children, and that his healthcare costs are about $13,000 a year.
At this point a waitress comes to take the VP's order, which was a tuna salad platter and diet coke.
Meanwhile the women seated to the VP's right have gotten some loved ones on the phone and VP turns to them to speak with them. "I'm sitting here with your wife -- not alone!" Biden says to one man. He learns he's a veteran, and says "Thank you for your service." Learns he's in the army, and tells him that's the branch his son served in. He ends up handing the phone to a staffer to deal with some questions he had. Unclear what they were.
Biden turns back to Grossman and asks him to continue with his question. Grossman wants a deeper explanation of "Obamacare," wondering how it would help him.
"It will help you dramatically," Biden explains. As an independent contractor, in 2014 he can begin to sign up for an exchange. Walks him through how it works, saying private insurers can participate in it and they have to meet five "safeguards," including no lifetime caps, no restrictions because of preexisting conditions.
The tuna platter arrives. "Holy mackeral!" the VP exclaims.
He apologizes for eating and talking (was sipping soup earlier) but goes on to tell Grossman that he'll "be able to get better healthcare than you had before at a lower cost." Explains that he'll have more bargaining power now, which would allow him to find the best deal. "That's the fundamental change." He also goes through what has already gone into effect, when Grossman asked again about the exchanges kicking in until 2014.
Grossman asks if he really thinks it will lower healthcare costs, will he offer a percentage. "There's been all kinds of estimates," Biden says. "You can get more benefits for less money." He says it's a choice, he can choose from the competing plans based on his family's needs from the exchange.
Grossman says, so it's a state plan? No, it's private plans participating in an exchange that the state sets up, Biden says. If the state doesn't have one set up, then there is the federal exchange.
"So if the Republicans take the presidency this year, will all of those things that you put into effect be recounted [sic]?" "All gone," Biden says. "Square one?" "As a matter of fact," Biden says, you're probably going to pay more, because "we're back to square one" in terms of the benefits that are already in effect now being also repealed.